This year has been a hell for leather romp through heavy turf towards a non-existent finish line. To be honest, it’s always breakneck speed around here. The simple life was never my ideal. I prefer to ramp it up and test the boundaries by piling in as much good stuff as I possibly can. My capacity for good stuff is substantial.
It’s a challenge to balance the good stuff with the washing up and endless amount of sweeping required due to the numerous little feet in this house. But, I want to tell you about some of the good stuff I have been squashing into my writing life.
I kicked off my writing year in February with The Novelist’s Bootcamp, lead by the prolific and intensified Dr Kim Wilkins. It was fascinating to see a plotter in her natural habitat, surrounded by books and acolytes. I felt like a spy, gathering secret info to bring back to the tribe.
Before attending this weekend workshop, everything I knew about plotting was learnt the hard way. I set out on this epic novel writing journey two years ago. I had written songs, reams of work related guff and I’d blogged. But I’d never written a story. Not even a short one. I’d planned to knock it out by Christmas. 2014. Plot? What plot?
I am nothing if not pig headed persistent (born in the Year of the Boar). So I have pushed on with my late bloomer experiment, despite my failings and plot holes larger than lunar craters. Slowly but surely I am getting a grip on my characters and their stories.
I conjured up a new idea for a second (unrelated) book about a year ago, and diligently put it on the backburner to focus all my efforts on getting the first book to something that might approach being a first draft. By the end of last year, I needed to put it aside, and I attended the Bootcamp with my second book in mind and the hope that, with some plotting clarity, I might finish it within my lifetime. So glad I did.
So this is where I confess. My name is Rose and I am a workshopaholic. It’s been about 8 weeks since my last workshop and…you know how this story goes.
Self-indulgent? Obsessive? I confess, I confess.
In March, I took myself to Sydney to attend a mind altering weekend with Charlotte Wood and Alison Manning designed to ‘bring joy, pleasure and productivity back to your writing life’. Taking the time to pull apart my reasons for writing and acknowledge the gifts writing gives to me was quite an experience. More than just making a plan, this was like discovering I had a third eye and almost as good as seeing colour tv for the first time. Yes, I am that old. And it was that good.
Alison is doing some research on writer’s procrastination, so if you are interested, sign up here. Charlotte has just claimed The Stella Prize for her novel ‘The Natural Way of Things’ and her acceptance speech was a snapshot of our phenomenal experience at the workshop. Read it here.
Then in April, the old hometown came out swinging with The Rock and Roll Writers Festival. Hell on wheels. My two favourite things. Together. Leanne De Souza and Joe Wolley built this sweet event on their own blood sweat and tears. The program was meaty and expansive, the conversations heartening and sustaining. So very grateful this happened in Brisbane. Be there next year.
When I sat down to start working on the new novel, my writing plan flew out the window and I found myself drawn back to the first. Rediscovering my characters, re-engaging with the story and sensing some progress feels good. So don’t try to divert me with your fabulous workshops, exciting new festivals or dirty floors. I’m filling my cup. I’m writing.